Engaging children in nutrition activities early on will help foster positive relationships with food throughout life. Around six months of age complementary foods are introduced. Whether you make your own baby food or purchase commercial infant foods, meal times should a fun, positive experience for your infant. Follow your infant’s cues and engage her in meal preparation.
Take your infant food shopping. At the grocery store or farmers market, talk to your infant about the food you are purchasing. Share information on where the food comes from and how you plan on preparing it at home. If appropriate, allow her to touch, smell and taste the foods you have purchased.
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Involve your infant in food preparation. In the home, pretend you are on a cooking show; explain each step in the preparation and cooking process. If appropriate allow your infant to touch, smell and taste the food as you are preparing the meal. For older infants, have them help you measure out ingredients or help with mixing.
Participate in the dining experience with your infant. At the table, include your infant in family meal times. Take time to sit and enjoy the meals together around the dinner table. As food introduction moves from single-ingredient meals to table food, prepare foods the whole family can enjoy.
- Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense; Ellyn Satter
- Always consult your pediatrician before introducing foods to infants. If rashes, vomiting or diarrhea occur after the introduction of a food, stop and call your pediatrician.
Heather Colleran is a registered dietitian and a board certified specialist in sports dietetics. She earned her Ph.D. in human nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is a certified strength-and-conditioning coach through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Colleran has contributed to the “Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics” and “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.”